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Career Development

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One of the biggest predictors of salary is geography.  Cities have a higher cost of living than rural areas but a higher cost of living requires an equally high salary.  So who pays the most for chemists nationwide?


In the last 2 years, four metropolitan areas have topped the list for highest salaries for PhD chemists working full time: San Francisco, Newark, Houston-Beaumont, and Boston.


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Each of these metropolitan areas has a large amount of chemical employers who attract top talent nationwide.  Among those employers include Genentech, Merck, Chevron Phillips, and Pfizer to name a few.  Larger companies can afford top talent – and they’re willing to pay more for it.

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How does your salary stack up?  There are many variables to consider, and ACS can help you navigate the data.  Members can start with the ACS Salary Calculator™ where you can enter your skills, degree, and geography to get a very specific portrait for your employment situation.


If you want a more general outlook that is free to the public, try the ACS Employment Dashboard™, where you can view employment, demographic, and salary trends from 2000 to 2014.

The ACS Career Navigator™ had a great time at the 249th ACS National Meeting and Exposition in Denver, CO! Starting on Friday, five Professional Education Short Courses were held and attendees had the opportunity to gain managerial skills and learn more about polymer, analytical or biological/medicinal chemistry. Attendees at the half-day Leadership Development Courses gained valuable leadership skills that could be immediately applied to their professional job or ACS volunteer role.

The ACS Career Fair was a popular spot for members who were looking to expand their career horizons. Thirty-six recruiters from companies interviewed potential candidates and 27 companies on recruiters row were giving out information to attendees. If you weren't ready to interview, ACS Career Consultants were available to give feedback on interview skills and review resumes. ACS Career Pathways Workshops™ were offered throughout the week helping members get a better understanding of what they can expect out of a career in academia, government, industry or entrepreneurship.


ACS Career Navigator™ was also at the ACS Booth,if you stopped by, you were able to play our version of Plinko for a chance to win one of our giveaways or entered to win an iPad Mini!


National Meeting Attendees at the ACS Career Navigator Booth | Photo Credit: Christine Brennan Schmidt



Hope everyone else had a great time at the ACS National Meeting and see you next time! Visit our website for events offered at ACS National Meeting in Boston!

The ACS Career Fair, taking place March 22-24 at the 249th ACS National Meeting in Denver, is your resource to meet and network with top employers in the chemical field. In order to provide you with the best opportunity for success we’d like to introduce you to one of our Featured Employer, SABIC.

SABIC, based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is ranked among the world’s largest petrochemicals manufacturers. SABIC began operations in 1976 by Royal decree and its growth has been nothing short of miraculous. Today, the company has operations in over 40 countries with a global workforce of over 40,000 talented individuals. SABIC is composed of six business units, each headed by an Executive Vice President. These are: Chemicals, Polymers, Performance Chemicals, Fertilizers, Metals and Innovative Plastics. These six operating units make four distinctly different kinds of products:  Chemicals – Chemicals and Performance Chemicals, Plastics – Polymers and Innovative Plastics, Fertilizers, and Metals.


SABIC’s principle corporate offices and headquarters are in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with major industrial operations in the industrial city of Al-Jubail on the Arabian Gulf, as well as in Yanbu on the Red Sea. SABIC’s global presence continues to grow rapidly. Their ambitious plans for expansion are matched by the development of an infrastructure of manufacturing plants, distribution centers, offices and storage facilities worldwide. This enables them to respond efficiently to the needs of their customers in key markets around the world.


SABIC comes to the ACS Career Fair, looking to fill a number of positions.  They are seeking experienced and innovative senior engineers and scientists for their Technical and Application Centers in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The SABIC Technical and Application Centers are state-of- the-art facilities for fundamental and applied research. The facilities include bench scale reactors, pilot plants, polymer processing and application equipment as well as state- of- the-art analytical labs. For more information on the open positions please click here.


Register today for the ACS Career Fair today for the opportunity to take part in on-site interviews with this and many other potential employers.

Did you think that your educational needs were met when you completed your degree? In some cases, this might be true. However, as you advance in your career, more professional development may be needed.


In a recent article in Science Magazine, “Leadership Training for Early Career Researchers,” the necessity of leadership training is discussed by several researchers and how they have benefited from leadership training. One story is that of Katie Garman of Duke University’s Department of Medicine. Upon gaining the position, she took management over of a technician, graduate student and clinical fellows and residents. "I really needed to learn more about how to manage a lab and manage a group and obtain a very different skill-set than the one that I had acquired during medical school, residency, and fellowship," Katie said of her need for leadership training.


The article goes on to discuss topics like handling personality differences, leading peers, leadership for women, and admitting when help is needed. Visit our friends over at Science Magazine to read the full article.


Are you in a situation similar to Katie? Whether you are an up- and- coming or existing leader the ACS Career Navigator™ is here to assist you through the ACS Leadership Development System® . Visit our website for a list of upcoming and online courses. Don’t forget, ACS Members receive a discount! 

Yes. In your job, you have to make decisions based on data sets that are uncertain -- repeated measurements that aren't identical; one piece of data that looks like a dreaded outlier; data taken by different analysts. And at the end of the day, you'd like to know how likely it is your decisions will be correct; or, to say it differently, you'd like to know your risk of being wrong about your decision.

For example, instead of saying, "It kind of looks like our product is maybe within specifications -- I guess we can probably ship it," wouldn't it be better to say, "If we choose to ship this product, we can be 99.997% confident that it will meet the customer's specifications; our risk of being out of specification is only 0.00003"? You know your risk of being wrong. It's the better way to run a business.

Yes, a course in statistics will help you.
Want to take an in-person ACS Short Course in statistics? There are four opportunities this year to register for Statistical Analysis of Laboratory Data!

You'll sleep better at night.


This blog post was written by ACS Professional Education instructor, Stanley N. Deming who teaches ACS Short Courses in the areas of experimental design, optimization and statistical analysis of laboratory data.

If you cannot take our in-person course, we offer an introductory online course, Introduction to Statistical Analysis of Laboratory Data.

Your résumé is quite possibly one of the most important things you will ever write. It is your introduction to a potential employer and, as we all know, first impressions are everything.


Are you putting your best foot forward with your résumé? 


The article “20 Things You Should Leave Off Your Résumé and LinkedIn Profile” on Inc.com discusses things that you might want to rethink putting on your résumé. Do you still have the retail job you had in high school on there? You might want to lose it. Were you the reigning hot dog eating contest champ at the Hometown County Fair three years running? Unless your special skill directly relates to the position you are applying for, Inc.com says to leave it off of your résumé. What else should you leave off? Hop on over to Inc.com and read the story now to find out.  Also, make sure to take advantage of the great resources that the ACS Career Navigator™ has to offer. We have guides to help you craft the perfect curriculum vitae for academic positions or write the best résumé for industrial and governmental positions.


No matter what your career needs are, ACS Career Navigator™ is here to help.

Are you being paid what you’re worth? Find out with ACS Salary Calculator.


You aced the interview, you impressed the hiring managers, and you landed the job.  Congratulations! Now you have to start talking salary. They know what they want to offer you, but do you know whether it reflects your value?  When they give you an initial offer, what will be your counteroffer? Information is power, and in any negotiation the person with more information has the upper hand.   You don’t want to sell yourself short, but you also don’t want to overplay your hand. You need the information to find out exactly what your chemistry skills are worth in today’s marketplace.


The ACS Salary Calculator™ will tell you what you could be making.  The tool is designed to show you a range of salaries based off

                                                  years of experience                work specialty

                                                  geography                             employer type

                                                  work sector                           work function

                                                  education                              and more!



In addition to showing you the median salary for your employment situation, the calculator now provides maturity curves that graph how your salary will change over time. 


Anticipating a career change?  You can even enter hypothetical work situations into the salary calculator to explore your options.  Change your geography, change your degree level, or even change your work specialty.


Are you a new graduate in chemistry?  Even if this is your first salary negotiation, the ACS Salary Calculator has information to help you!  It can account for the impact prior internship work experience, grades, geography, and field of degree. 


Try it today!


The ACS Salary Calculator™ is a member-only tool. Not a Member? Join ACS Today!

The key to success in a job interview is preparation, but you already know that. You know to walk in the door cool, calm, and confident. You are dressed professionally and you have researched the company. The hiring manager greets you and you give them a firm handshake and a warm smile. They ask you about yourself, your experience, why you are looking for new opportunities, and why you are interested in their company. You give them strong, polished answers and think to yourself that “you’ve got this.” The hiring manager tells you about the position, the expectations, and the company. Then they ask you if you have any questions and you freeze, this is the one part of the interview that you didn’t prepare for. Jobs can be won and lost based on the questions you do or don’t ask. Don’t let this happen to you.


The article “Three Interview Questions Every Job Seeker Should Know” by Liz Ryan, featured on Forbes.com, discusses job interviews, scripted vs. unscripted, and how the thing that hiring managers are most looking for in interviews is to see your brain working. She draws upon her experience as a former HR manager to advise you that you should be prepared for an interviewer who is going to follow a script and one who may go off book. She lays out three questions that you should definitely be asking in your interviews:

  1. What items are on your hot list, the things you most want and need to have completed and off your plate three months from now?
  2. What is the biggest goal for your department this year, and how would I as a new team member contribute to that goal?
  3. What is the biggest problem you’re looking to hire someone to solve for you?


Are you curious about other things you should be doing, or not doing, in your interviews? ACS has the perfect resource for you. At the ACS Career Fair, held during the National Meeting in Denver, March 22-24, our Career Consultants will be holding mock interviews to help guide you in putting your best foot forward in your job interviews. Register today to take advantage of this outstanding resource!

During the weekend of January 23rd, more than 350 ACS Member Volunteers, Board Members and Staff gathered in Dallas, TX to learn their new volunteer leadership roles, share best practices and foster peer-to-peer networks.


The kick-off dinner on Friday night included remarks from Leadership Advisory Board (LAB) co-chairs, Carol Duane and Larry Krannich to inform the crowd that 2015 marks 50 years of ACS providing leadership training to member volunteers!  Additional remarks were made by ACS Executive Director and CEO Madeleine Jacobs who spoke of her upcoming retirement and new volunteer role as Chair of the Committee on Minority Affairs; she expressed her excitement to experience the Leadership Institute in a different perspective.  Jacobs then introduced Tom Connelly, who will begin as ACS Executive Director and CEO on February 17th. It was insightful to hear about his career at DuPont and his role as executive vice president and chief innovation officer, and ACS is sure to benefit greatly from his experiences.



Carol Duane and Larry Krannich |  Photo Credit: Christine Brennan Schmidt



Tom Connelly | Photo Credit: Christine Brennan Schmidt

After dinner, groups broke out into sessions and meetings followed by a short reception that allowed members to collect signatures from members of the Board of Directors, Staff. It was a great way to network with new member volunteers and seasoned volunteers in the Society.


On Saturday, participants chose two leadership courses to attend that will guide them in their new role. The courses included Fostering Innovation, Leading Without Authority, Engaging and Motivating Volunteers, and more. All courses offered real-life examples allowing participants to share ideas, work through problems and create solutions that can be applied to their Local Section, Division or Committee roles.


Attendees at Leadership Institute  | Photo Credit: Christine Brennan Schmidt

The courses concluded Saturday afternoon and ACS Staff hosted a Resource Fair with informational tables to learn how ACS can assist your local section, division or committee. Did you know ACS Career Navigator™ will provide marketing resources like email templates and social media promotions if you scheduled an event? A dinner followed the Resource Fair where all attendees received a commemorative ACS Leadership Development System® lapel pin to celebrate the 50 years of leadership training at ACS. The weekend ended with celebratory cake and a champagne toast!

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Attendees at Leadership Institute  | Photo Credit: Allison Viverito



ACS Board of Directors at Champagne and Cake Toast  | Photo Credit: Christine Brennan Schmidt


It was great to see all of our wonderful volunteer members, looking forward to a successful 2015!


Did you go to the Leadership Institute? Let us know what you thought in the comments!


Interested in Leadership Development System® Courses? See what is offered at ACS National Meeting in Denver here.

Some of you may be thinking, “Awesome! The ACS Career Fair is coming up and I am totally prepared. I’ve registered, researched the employers, scheduled some meetings, worked on my elevator pitch, and prepared for any question that may come my way.” Others may be a little overwhelmed at the idea of being around and meeting so many people or may not be quite sure where to start. The article, “Mastering the Art of A Career Fair” found on The Muse, features a helpful infographic to guide you in tackling the career fair.


The infographic covers topics like how you should dress, how you should prepare beforehand, making the most of your time, making sure you get contact information from everyone you network with, and making sure you have a full stomach before you hit the fair. There are also tips offered on how to best network at career fairs including researching companies, making a good first impression, being succinct, and following up. This infographic, as well as many of the great resources that ACS has available, will help you make the best of the time that you have at the ACS Career Fair. Be sure to visit the Career Navigator page to take advantage of our job seeker tools that will aid you in resume writing and interview strategies, the Salary Calculator that will help you know your worth, and much more!

Taking control of your career may seem like a daunting task, but the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.  Start moving with the ACS Employment Dashboard™, an interactive application that will help you explore chemical employment data across the US.


Use the Dashboard to see how location affects salary across nine different regions of the country.  How does employment vary from coast to coast?  Where are industry salaries the highest?  Find answers to these questions and more with comprehensive, user-friendly data that spans more than a decade!


And best of all its free to chemists and non-chemists alike.


Don’t have time to look at it online?  Then take it with you!  There’s also a feature to export the data to Excel where you can see the effects of degree, region, and demographic factors at a glance.


If you want specific career info tailored to your exact work situation, try the ACS Salary Calculator™.  This ACS member tool is like cranking our employment dashboard into overdrive.  Using yearly data from new and experienced chemists we create a model for your salary situation that can be used to plan a move, negotiate a salary, or see just how much your experience is worth.



ACS Leadership Development System® courses teach critical skills that are applicable to any leadership situation. The system is an integrated collection of online and in-person courses engineered to provide relevant, up-to-date training to help ACS members in their professional, personal and volunteer activities. ACS instructional designers will work with members and their team to develop customized scenarios and small group exercises that address the unique leadership challenges of each individual organization.

Courses can be tailored to meet the specific needs of volunteer leaders, members and staff and delivered on location. These courses are appropriate and beneficial for everyone including the seasoned ACS leader, the long term member focused on their family and career, and the newest member just starting their career in chemistry.

Courses within the system are relevant for:

  • Volunteers at all levels and in all parts of the ACS – Local Sections, Regional, Divisions, National or Committees who want to get the most out of volunteering with ACS and ensure that their time, efforts and skills have the most impact possible for them, the Society and our members
  • Anyone who interacts with people in their personal, professional or volunteer lives or wants to learn how to communicate more effectively
  • Anyone anywhere who would like to increase the engagement, participation and impact of the people around them in ACS or at work
  • Anyone who wants to develop transferable skills and gain other experiences and contacts that can help in other aspects of their professional and personal life
  • Anyone who works with:
    • people in different departments, groups, sites or countries
    • different ACS Local Sections, Divisions or Committees
    • people from different backgrounds or with different experiences
    • others on Teams and Task Forces
  • Anyone who does not have complete control over everything that they need to be successful in their personal, professional or volunteers roles
  • People leading teams or projects in a matrix environment
  • Anyone who’s success is dependent on others
  • Anyone interested in:
    • Increasing their ability to generate new ideas and approaches
    • Encouraging innovation new ideas and new approaches to solving challenges
  • Anyone interested in combining networking with committed professionals with volunteering to advance their volunteer and professional activities and interests

Although many of the specific scenarios in the courses relate to situations found in ACS or the wider chemistry enterprise they will be invaluable for anyone interacting with others in any organization, group or community.


Find more information and register for an ACS Leadership Development System® Course offered at ACS National Meeting in Denver on March 22 - 24.

The main goal of career development is advancement, right? Wrong. Careers that have a low rate of advancement are often looked at as “dead end jobs,” but this is not always the case. Many organizations have fewer management positions than people who want to be managers. However, there is a lot of room for development and just because you may not be able to advance at a rate you might like does not mean that you can’t take advantage of development opportunities. A recent article, “Why Career Development and Advancement Aren’t the Same Thing,” featured on Fast Company’s website, highlights a few ways organizations can encourage development in their workforce. The article seeks to recognize that advancement is just part of a career and development leads employees to stay with organizations for the long-term.   Topics discussed include, offering opportunities for continued learning, providing autonomy, supporting innovation, and creating a network. Hop on over to Fast Company and read the article in its entirety: http://www.fastcompany.com/3038968/why-career-development-and-advancement-arent- the-same-thing. Interested in developing new skills that can positively impact you career?


Visit http://www.acs.org/careernavigator to see all the opportunities that the ACS can offer.

Who doesn’t love the feeling of putting on an old coat or finding a pair of pants that you had long forgotten about, reaching into the pocket and finding a crisp $20 bill? Even though it was always your money, it feels like a bonus – a cosmic reward to go out and splurge on a cup of premium coffee, buy your favorite book, or just make paying at the pump just a little bit easier.

Bonuses from employers are often much larger, but less often talked about.  Did you know that in 2013, the median year-end bonus for an ACS chemist was $8,800? That buys a lot of cups of coffee… or one nice vacation! 


This extra money can go a long way to help with the bills, but how much can you really expect?  ACS chemists in industry are much more likely to receive a bonus, and about 95% of those who are eligible to receive a bonus get one.  Industry bonuses tend to be higher, as well: in 2014, industry-employed chemists had a median bonus of $10,000 compared to $1,500 in government or $2,000 in academia.


Did you know your bonus potential is linked to your education, too?  Higher education means higher rewards.  ACS members with Ph.D.s received bonuses over twice the size of those with only a bachelor’s degree ($11,000 and $5,000, respectively). 


If you want to know more about salaries and bonuses, visit the Market Intelligence page at ACS.org for Salary and Employment Trends.  There you can find four decades of reports on bonuses, salaries, and employment!  For more information on bonuses, check out the most recent ACS Salaries 2014 report.


Before settling into the work day, I start each morning by walking my dog. It’s a great way to start the day, because she is always so excited for the new day and the upcoming walk. Her tail wags, the ears perk up, and she jumps at the door. As we started down one of the usual paths, I thought about how wonderful it would be to feel that much excitement and anticipation each morning. I started thinking about what other behaviors she exhibits that could be applicable to my work day. I realized there is a lot we can learn from our dogs. 

Start Each Morning Excited

A lot of people don’t look forward to the work day, and some even dread it. But if you think in terms of potential, it opens up the door for excitement. What could this day hold? What could you accomplish if you embarked on your work with enthusiasm? Don’t think of the work day as a list of tasks that just need to be checked off. People go through the motions in order to get through another eight hours and go home.

When I go on the walk each morning, I’m not thinking of it as a series of steps, one foot in front of the other, until I return home. I’m enjoying the morning air, the sunshine, the scenery – I’m enjoying the experience. Step back from all the small steps that make up the day, and look at the scenery: where are you going in your career? Is the path itself enjoyable? If it is, you should be able to wake up each morning as excited as a dog ready for another opportunity to see what awaits outside.

Live in the Moment

Dogs don’t sit around thinking about what happened last week, or yesterday, or even three minutes ago. They live in the moment. They focus on now. What better way to maximize productivity at work? It sounds obvious – focus on the task at hand. However, people often get distracted trying too hard to multitask, or focusing on a presentation that went poorly last week, or worrying about the review tomorrow. If you can stay in the moment and give your complete attention to the current task, there is no room left for stressful thoughts. Maybe that’s why dogs seem eternally happy.

Be Eager to Learn

Dogs love to learn new tricks. They may not always pick up on what you are trying to teach them right away, but they are persistent and enjoy the training process. And yes, you can teach an old dog new tricks. No matter what your job is, how long you’ve been doing it, or how good you are at it, there is always more to learn. Job training can sometimes be boring, frustrating, seem pointless, or simply be really difficult. But mastering a new skill is rewarding. Applying new skills to the job may even be recognized with rewards, such as a promotion. So, be eager to learn something new and enjoy the stimulation of the training process. Let persistence win out over frustration.

Be Part of the Pack

Dogs are social animals. They like to be part of a pack (or family, in many cases); social interaction and feedback from others is important. For most of us, there is also a “pack” that we interact with regularly on the job. It may be primarily a few people who function as a small group, or a large production team. In any case, it behooves us to interact well with others and be part of the pack. Historically, the pack provided food and protection by hunting and defending territory together. While our needs may not be as critical today, it is good to know that your team “has your back”. People need to know they can count on each other to get the job done and to be honest and fair. Those who step on others to rise ahead may find that no one is there to stand beside them when needed.  

Be Grateful

Dogs are grateful for every treat, every belly rub, every bit of attention bestowed upon them. Their appreciation is obvious and automatic. Humans don’t have such tell-tale signs of gratitude, no wagging tail or perked up ears. We need to make an effort to let others know that we appreciate their efforts. Say “thank you” often, tell others you appreciate their help, smile freely, and do something to help them in return. Being grateful feels good, and it makes others feel good when you show it.


If you are a dog owner, what else can you learn from your dog and apply to the job? Look at your daily routine with your spouse, your kids, your friends: where can you take inspiration for positive lessons to apply on the job?


This article was written by Sherrie Elzey, Ph.D., a sales engineer and freelance technical writer/editor. Sherrie has a background in nanoscience and nanotechnology research, with experience in academia, government, and industry positions.

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